It is a grim, absurd sign of our times that legislatures and city councils find it easy to ban toy guns that don't kill and impossible to ban real guns that do. Nevertheless, toy guns in the hands of criminals can be harmful, and a ban on them may just--can we hope?--foretell some distant emergence of sanity about the real things.
State Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) is taking aim at criminals who play real games of stick-'em-up with toy guns that look like anything but kid stuff.
When the California Legislature reconvenes next month, Roberti plans to sponsor a bill to ban the manufacture and sale of toy guns that look real. A ban is worth it in the aftermath of crimes committed with fake weapons and tragedies involving victims killed by police officers who have faced down death and learned to shoot first and ask later whether the gun was real. That was the case, tragically, in 1983, when a young Orange County policeman killed a boy who was playing with a realistic toy pistol at home in Stanton.
Roberti's bill would also make it a felony to brandish a toy gun in a threatening manner. New legislation that takes effect on Jan. 1 will make it a misdemeanor to hold up someone with a toy gun, but a felony classification would be tougher to dismiss and would carry more severe penalties--including the threat of a stint in a state prison. The heavier punishment is warranted.